President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that France will end Operation Barkhane but that French troops would remain as part of a larger international effort against Islamic terror groups. Barkhane was battling Islamist insurgencies in the Sahel region of West Africa.

He added that France would announce details “in the weeks to come.” Further, he voiced his frustration over the lack of the G5 Sahel governments taking responsibility for their own security issues.

“The time has come to begin a deep transformation of our military presence in the Sahel. The continuation of our commitment in the Sahel cannot be in the same way. We are going, with our partners by our side but also with countries in the region… to draw conclusions on what worked… and what didn’t,” Macron said to the news media.

Political Instability and Home-front Frustration

In France, there has been growing frustration among the population that the country is locked into a long-term war and bears the brunt of the fighting that shows no sign of ending.

Additionally, with the majority of France’s 5,100 soldiers in the region located in the former French colony of Mali, the political instability of the country also contributed to Macron’s decision.

Macron’s decision comes just days after the Malian army conducted the second coup in less than a year, detaining and then forcing the resignation of President Bah N’Daw, Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, and the defense minister.

Task Force Takuba
An operator from SOF Task Force Takuba coordinates an airstrike with a French Mirage jet in the Sahel. (French Ministry of Defense)

Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were further incensed that Mali was attempting to negotiate with global terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. 

After the second Malian coup and the reports of the negotiation with the terrorist groups, Macron had temporarily suspended military operations with the Malian military